Saturday August 10th 2013
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The plan for today is to go to
Ribbon Creek in the Kananaskis for a hike. Matti wants to see
the Rockies. I have not decided whether to go or to stay here
and have a quiet day by myself.
Everyone except Jon and me left
in the Toyota van at 9 AM headed for the Kananaskis. Orams left
Sophie, their huge black Burmese Mountain puppy here and we kept her
in as we did not know if she would stay around or go looking for
Jon was working on a software installation
remotely for a major corporation and supervising a crew of
programmers by phone, so he had to stick around on call. He had
been up all night, too, so was getting a bit frayed.
The job kept him on the
phone for 12 hours overnight and continued into the
morning. Large websites get an overhaul periodically and
it always happens overnight. The excuse is that web
usership drops at night, but my suspicion is that this is the
only time geeks are really awake.
As for me, I feel that
Ellen's remaining time is short and that I should be sure to be
at the hospital often. There is no point in being there
long, but important to be there when the medical situation
changes and decisions must be made.
My feeling was right and I was
glad I went up. She did not wake up, but I was able to suggest
adding liquids to a medication IV they were starting as she had been
I filed a bottle of propane
again, too. Seems the forklift is using an awful lot of fuel.
I guess I use it a lot these days.
Mavis came by the house on the
way to visit Ellen and dropped off some baking. She returned
on the way back for coffee.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Sunday August 11th 2013
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Today is going to be hot.
Jean, Chris and I visited Ellen
first thing this AM. She seems comfortable, but did not quite
Chris continued on to Lacombe,
Jean, Nathan and I returned home and swam a while, then just hung
out and had lunch. This Matti's last day here and we are just
It's not the size of the dog in
the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
Monday August 12th 2013
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I drove to Three Hills at
eight-thirty to see Ellen and meet with the doctor. He did not
show, but I sat by the bed a while and went home.
Jon has a lot of work, so I
drove Matti to YYC. Even though his first flight is domestic
to Toronto, he wanted to be early, so I dropped him off almost three
hours before his flight.
From there, I went to Costco,
bought some groceries, went to Wal-Mart and Extra Foods and Canadian
Tire then drove home.
We had a steak supper and a
quiet evening. Oddly, steak does not appeal to me as much as
it used to and my meat consumption has dropped considerably.
No one can earn a million
William Jennings Bryan
Tuesday August 13th 2013
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I was late logging today.
Jean decided to go to Drumheller to take the kids to the
Royal Tyrrell Museum and
I opted in. We had lunch at the A&W and drove back by the
Dinosaur Trail, crossing the River at the Bleriot Ferry. We
arrived home at 3 PM in time for Jean to go online to host a writers
forum. Jon spent the day working downstairs on one of his
This is the first day that I
have not gone to see Ellen in the morning and also the first day in
a long while that I have not done my diary first thing.
We swam in what remained of the
afternoon, relaxed, and I had a good nap. After supper, Jean,
Nathan and I drove up to see Ellen. Her condition has not
changed much except that she seems more relaxed.
Jon leaves one week from today.
Hell is paved with good
William M. Holden
Wednesday August 14th 2013
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The weather seems to be
settling in for a good hot spell with a promise of a continuing
flow. I have to get out to look at the bees. Today is
Wednesday Night Racing at the Glenmore Yacht Club and I think I may
pass. Zeke promised some others to take them as crew this
week, but can get Jon and me a place on another boat. We'll
see later in the day.
We have a lot of fire blight
showing up in our cotoneasters and a touch in the apples. I
should get Elijah strayed on pruning it off. today. He had
planned to work yesterday, but a friend of his needed help.
That was fine by me as I was away and then napping, so I was not too
eager to teach him the new job.
As you can see, I did some
writing today and managed to do some other things as well. The
diary continues below the BEE-L articles.
>> That may be so
(it would be illegal here in the UK) but will do nothing
>> to eliminate the spores which can remain viable for up to
>> century, so I suspect it is a remedy recommended by the
>> companies looking to sell more.
>>However, some bees do have hygienic traits that enable
them to deal
>>with AFB and prevent it becoming a problem. Roger Morse
>> me that he had colonies of bees that he found impossible to
>> with AFB!
when properly applied, can be used to treat hives
> infected with AFB."
...We have been over and over this
topic for decades here on BEE-L and nothing never seems to
change except that after two decades of 'conscious raising'
and missionary work with breeders and queen suppliers as
well as some academic work, we do indeed have a lot more
strains that resist AFB breakdown in varying degrees from
not-so-well to (apparently) completely immune.
This characteristic (AFB resistance)
has bled into the general North American (NA) bee population
to the point where, when inspecting, I have not seen or
heard of an entire yard breaking down with severe AFB for
three decades. I have seen a large outfit with a few cells
of ongoing AFB in hives scattered throughout the operation,
though. Whether this was the initial phase of a disaster or
just hives handling AFB, I don't know, but I do know that
decades ago, the outbreak would not have been so minor or
easily treatable. Several Tylosin®
treatments in fall will likely restore those thousands of
hives to where AFB is never seen. (OTC works, but is pretty
lame and unreliable by comparison).
Of course AFB spores will still be
in the hives, but they always are in a commercial operation.
Almost no one in North America with more than a few yards
operates in a region where there is no likelihood of another
beekeeper having or bringing in infected equipment and
failing to recognize or manage a breakdown.
Consequently, we all have to assume
we have AFB spores in out hives, whether we see AFB or not
and decide which strategy to employ when an isolated case is
found or we see a few infected cells in a number of hives.
Basically, in this day and age, AFB
is one more thing to blame on the queen, so requeening is in
order, as is questioning the ancestry of all the bees in the
outfit and considering switching to better stock.
Then the question is whether to
destroy or treat, or both, and whether to attempt to totally
eradicate every last AFB spore or to live with and manage
the risk. I choose to treat and be vigilant.
If only one frame or hive is
involved, destruction makes sense, but if tens, hundreds or
thousands of hives are involved, requeening, treatment and
improved management makes more sense to me.
IMO, no matter how draconian the
measures taken, no one can be absolutely certain that no AFB
remains or that the source has been discovered and can be
It has been demonstrated that
several sequential treatments with Tylosin at recommended
doses and timing can control AFB to the point where
recurrence is very infrequent. So infrequent in fact, that
the likelihood of breakdown is quite comparable to the
likelihood of breakdown in new hives in many regions of NA.
We know that there are still spores there, but good bee
stock is not bothered by them.
Yards with virtually 100% of the
hives broken down with severe AFB were common in the '70s
when beekeepers bought packages with sister queens and
installed a whole yard or where a beekeeper raised thousands
of queens from one poorly selected mother queen. At that
time, package producers had not yet learned to select for
I think we have Marla to thank for
much of this raised awareness and for showing that the trait
can be fixed in bees that are not mean and for her personal
missionary work with bee suppliers, although Steve Tabor,
Jerry and others deserve credit for promoting the idea
So, as with most beekeeping
questions, there is no one right answer. The solution is a
question of economics. The cost of one approach must be
weighed against the others, as is the probability of success
and the consequences of failure. (What is the worst thing
that could happen and how likely is it).
If you know you are not diligent and
able to spot AFB, then, by all means, burn. (Actually, get
right out of bees, please).
If you are diligent and able to make
decisions, and have a large investment to save, then
consider treating and learn how. Then decide based on a
careful consideration of the options open to you.
Tylosin is a bacteriostat
food additive used in veterinary medicine. It has a
broad spectrum of activity against gram positive
organisms and a limited range of gram negative
organisms. It is found naturally as a
fermentation product of Streptomyces fradiae.
Tylosin is used in veterinary medicine to treat
bacterial infections in a wide range of species and
has a high margin of safety. It has also been
used as a growth promotant in some species, and as a
treatment for colitis in companion animals.
|> There are worries that, because
of their routine widespread use,
> antibiotic resistance is becoming increasingly common and
> will run out of any that work. This dismal prospect will
> only the bees but also US! Best advice is not to use them
> really have to.
While this makes sense, the problem comes with the phrase,
really have to". What does that mean???
Also, in today's interconnected world, what we do locally
has to be
balanced against what is happening elsewhere.
We can conserve locally, but have a problem imported from
of the globe in 12 hours or less. We can totally cease using
antibiotics, but these same chemicals are available on the
other countries and used widely by people totally uneducated
use. People from these areas can travel internationally with
restrictions bringing their diseases, insects in luggage and
bacteria. What they don't carry, can be shipped by container
products and foods.
So, as I see it, we have to use judgment in employing these
but also not kid ourselves. What we do personally probably
little in the larger scheme of things. Sorry if that is news
who wish to convince or coerce others into sacrificing
economics to some vague and flawed concept of conservation.
Additionally, the entire topic of resistance is little
widely conjured up as a bogeyman. The mechanisms vary from
situation, and most of what I hear -- as far as I can tell
-- is simply
BS, used to scare people into accepting an otherwise barren
-- Humour warning -
unsuitable for the humourless reader --
There are only two kinds of
beekeepers in North America.
(I state this generality with the usual allowance for a
[very] few exceptions and those who have AFB and won't admit
to themselves that they do):
1. Beekeepers who have AFB and know it, and
2. Beekeepers who have AFB and don't know it
That is assuming AFB is defined -- as the purists would have
it -- as having even one AFB spore in a hive, no matter how
viable that spore is or not, whether that sole spore is
positioned to infect a larva or not, or accompanied by
sufficient similar spores to manage the task or not. It's
Whether the bees would promptly dispatch that one infected
larva STAT or not is not even a question in the minds of
purists. That hive has AFB. Burn it. Burn the beekeeper,
As defined by the rest of us, AFB is a continuum, from where
hives have a few spores of varying viability, possibly
undetectable without destructive sampling and no sign of
breakdown, to hives dead or dying with most brood cells
occupied by larvae in varying stages of decomposition.
I doubt that anyone will find any wax or honey sample of any
reasonable size in North America that does not contain at
least one spore. Of course that is not something anyone can
prove but something that extrapolates logically from what we
know from what limited sampling that has been done. YMMV.
It has been proven that old spores can germinate and infect
larvae, but the matter of what conditions must be present to
do so and the level of infection resulting don't seem to be
brought up when that observation is trotted out as
justification for a scorched earth approach.
I have personally, out of curiosity placed several badly
scaled up frames into a hive and treated with Tylosin to see
what happens. Just as Pettis reported at an ABF (not AFB)
meeting a decade ago, months later it was impossible to tell
that there was ever AFB in that frame by simple observation.
Years later there has been no recurrence.
So, the question then is really, how best to deal with an
ubiquitous problem -- by destroying the host, or targeting
Personal philosophy, experience, level of education and
economics (for Countryboy :) determines the answer.
I started the day late with a
visit to the hospital. Ellen was more peaceful than on
previous visits, but not very responsive. From there, I
dropped in on the mental Health office as I have been advised I may
need some counseling. At this point, I don't feel any need,
but I know I find fall and winter a bit depressing and they are
coming along soon. Together with losing Ellen, I may have some
unpredictable reactions, so best to be prepared.
Then I bought a few groceries and drove home.
After lunch and a swim, I went
out and pulled another 12 boxes of honey. Now I am out of
We swam again, then had supper.
After supper, Jon drove up to see Ellen and texted me that there was
a bee truck at the UFA and several fire trucks plus the paramedics.
I wondered what that could be about and grabbed a veil and drove
I arrived, the emergency vehicles had departed and I found a friend
there assisting his Mexican staff repair a leaking fuel tank.
They were returning from the pollination fields with a few boxes of
honey and a trailer on a flatbed and had noticed the fuel was low.
When they stopped to fill, they discovered that the added fuel was
pouring out, so pulled away from the pumps and called to report the
spill. Then all the emergency vehicles arrived.
I visited Ellen and discussed
the medication with the nurse on duty, then returned home.
That was about it for the day.
One other thing. My
second computer quit this afternoon and will not start past the
Windows 8 symbol. I'm guessing the hard drive has a problem.
If it gets that far, the system must read at least the beginning of
the Windows boot. Fortunately, I have kept weekly backups and
all my important files are in Dropbox so I can share them between
devices. We'll see how good the backups are.
It turns out that the machine
will not boot from a USB drive or CD, so the hardware must be
Opportunities multiply as they
Thursday August 15th 2013
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Today promises to be a scorcher
at 33 degrees. Maybe it will turn out to be a big honeyflow
40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World
I went to visit Ellen and
consult with the nurses in Three Hills first thing this morning.
She was resting comfortably, but not conscious. Breathing was
labored. I returned home and pulled more honey and also
moved the honey stacks around the yard to evade the robbers.
Around noon, Jean, Chris
and kids went to Linden for pie. At 3, Jean called and
reported that Ellen had died while she was visiting. Jean was
sitting by the bed holding Ellen's hand and she stopped breathing
and had no pulse.
We all drove to the hospital to
thank the staff and remove a few last things from the room, and
called our neighbour, Brian, who is a funeral director and gave
instructions. A meeting is planned at our home tomorrow at 9
Democracy does not guarantee
equality of conditions.
It only guarantees equality of opportunity.
Friday August 16th 2013
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Brian was delayed as he needed
to speak with the county about a plot, but we met around ten and
went down to the cemetery to pick a plot.
Ellen had insisted she
wanted to be buried in the Swalwell Cemetery and joked she
wanted to be buried near Barney, our former elevator agent,
known for getting prodigiously drunk, driving off the road and
waking up in the ditch and other peculiarities.
I was never sure she was joking
and on arrival we found that there was room right next to Barney, so
we declined the plot that was already staked out for her and bought
the plot next to Barney.
If she was joking, the joke is
on her. And the joke is on us, too. We bought three more
adjacent plots. At $200 a plot plus GST, one cannot be too
Personally, I have no
plan to die, but if I do -- and if they recover the body -- I
guess I'll lie there, too, or at least my ashes will -- at least
the urn and the remaining thimbleful that will not be scattered
in my many favourite places (or maybe flushed down the toilet if
I don't stop kidding around).
The rest of the day was spent
in tidying and a bit of beekeeping. and sent out a circular email to
friends and family.
|Friday August 16, 2013
To Family and Friends:
I am writing to let you know that Ellen passed away
yesterday, August 15th, just before 3 PM at the Three Hills
Health Care Centre after being in a semi-coma for several
Although she never smoked, Ellen was diagnosed with a deadly
metastasized lung cancer in late October 2011. She was
treated at the Tom Baker Cancer Clinic in Calgary with good
initial results and was quite well until April 2013.
Until she required a series of hospitalizations beginning in
early July 2013, she was active, enjoying life, and spending
good times with family and friends. Our 45th anniversary on
May 15th was spent on our sailboat which is kept at Sidney
on Vancouver Island. At home she was gardening and working
in her art studio.
In late spring, she grew weaker and treatments were no
longer helpful. She was hospitalized briefly in early July,
then returned to the hospital again later that month. In the
final two weeks she was in hospital, family visited numerous
times daily and the staff at the hospital provided constant
and compassionate care. At the time of her peaceful death
our daughter, Jean, was sitting with her, holding her hand.
We will be burying Ellen on Saturday August 17th at 3 PM at
the Swalwell Cemetery, located two and one half miles due
south of Swalwell.
The ceremony will be short and informal and all friends and
acquaintances are welcome (but not expected to attend)
graveside, and invited to return afterwards to our home at
The Old Schoolhouse in Swalwell for snacks and visiting.
Since many friends and family are located at great distance,
our plan is to have a simple, immediate burial and a
memorial at a later date when people can plan to attend if
they wish to do so. Further information will be sent by
email and will also be posted at
Allen Dick and family
Ellen Mae Dick, 69, of Swalwell, Alberta, passed away August
15th 2013 at the Three Hills Health Care Centre.
Ellen loved art, creativity, underused words, adventures,
and travel. Ellen was a commercial beekeeper and artist. Her
studio, workshop and home since 1968 were the Old
Schoolhouse in Swalwell.
Besides being a recognized Canadian painter, Ellen took her
innovative designs to stained glass and other creative
media. Her glass work can be found in many homes and in the
Hanna Health Care Centre chapel, and her paintings depicting
the Alberta prairies and summer skies are included in the
Alberta Foundation of the Arts collection.
Ellen was born August 9, 1944 in Sudbury, Ontario, only
daughter of Lily Maki and Kalle (Charlie) Jarvela. She
attended elementary and high school in Sudbury and graduated
From University College at the University of Toronto.
She is survived by her husband of 45 years, Allen Dick; son
Jonathan Dick, his children: Katrina (11) and Kalle (10);
and daughter Jean Oram, her husband Chris, and children:
Mckenzie (10) and Nathan(2).
Burial takes place at the Swalwell Cemetery on Saturday
August 17th 2013 at 3 PM. A memorial is planned for a later
date to be announced. Further information will be available
www.ellendick.com/memorial/. Donations to the Three
Hills Health Care Centre.
A small sampling of her work
can be found at www.ellendick.com
What I did not include in the
public material circulated , since the obit and letter were for a
larger group than just beekeepers, was the fact that Ellen and
Marnie Abel, with their partners' encouragement, decided to attend
the main sessions and not the Ladies Auxiliary at the Alberta
Beekeepers Association Annual General Meeting in South Calgary
(1980?) . Up until that time, the terms were the "Men's Session",
and the "Ladies Meeting". (That soon changed).
The two met little if any resistance or comment from the men and
some approving smiles, but surprised the ladies and offended some.
Ellen also ran the field operation of our bee outfit for several
years while I was in the computer business. She raised excellent
queens for several years when we expanded.
At one point, she also
decided that I had it easy running the bees and that her task of
running the household was harder and suggested a switch. I
agreed and was Mr. Mom for a year or two until she decided that
maybe the home life was easier for a smaller person and we
Most of the time after that we
did share both the bee work and the housework. I like to think
I did a lot of housework even before that, but everyone has
different standards. There are some things I count as
important, like vacuuming that she did not, and vice versa.
I have never let my schooling
interfere with my education.
Saturday August 17th 2013
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This afternoon at 3, we bury Ellen's Earthly
remains at the Swalwell cemetery. Looking at the weather
forecast, it is going to be hot.
The plan is to be casual, just showing up at
the cemetery at 3, along with those who wish to attend, say a few
words, have others do so as well, lower the casket and throw in a
bit of dirt, then go home and offer snacks to those who care to
In view of my role as husband of the deceased,
I had contemplated wearing my black suit, which I very seldom wear,
but am thinking that if I do, I might pass out from the heat or
sweat terribly. We have said to be casual, but I am wondering
if shorts and a tee shirt are appropriate, even if they are black.
That is the least of the worries. We've
invited and unknown number of friends to drop by after. That
is fine if the weather is clear as we plan to entertain mostly
outdoors, but if a thunderstorm appears, I am wondering if the house
is ready for a crowd. We'll have to arrange to have the
Swalwell Hall on standby. We do want everyone who wishes to to
drop by our home for an hour or two. Fortunately, I have
family and good friends at hand and everyone falls in without being
asked to make things work seamlessly.
This should go well.
* * * *
It did, and I did wear the suit. 42
people showed up and most came back to celebrate the occasion with
snacks and some stayed for supper. The adults visited and the
kids played and swam until dark, when the mosquitoes chased us
After everyone left, there was a knock at the
door. Our neighbour Jim Baerg brought over a lasagna and salad
and stayed for a visit.
There are some experiences in
life which should not be demanded twice from any man,
and one of them is listening to the Brahms Requiem.
George Bernard Shaw
Sunday August 18th 2013
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We did next to nothing today. The chairs
are still outside. We ate leftovers and mostly just chilled.
I started organizing papers. I have my work cut out for me.
I moved the honey stacks again. They are
getting lighter, as robbing continues in spite of the fact that we
now have stable flies in the house and I had to spray for the second
time this year.
The neighbours have cut their alfalfa again and
baled it today into small square bales.
|> Yesterday must have been a very
Actually it was a relaxed, enjoyable and memorable day.
My kids, their kids and the neighbours all pitched in to get
things ready at home for visitors, then we dressed up a bit
and drove to the cemetery to meet the hearse.
At 3 PM, under bright sun, we conducted the burial. There
was no service or proselytizing. She would not have wanted
that. We held an informal celebration of her life at
graveside, with good friends on hand. The country cemetery
is a beautiful setting on an isolated prairie hill
overlooking the countryside and the weather could not have
been more ideal.
Forty-two family and friends gathered graveside, spoke about
her and her meaning to each, cried a bit and then we lowered
the box, threw in some dirt, and all went back to The Old
Schoolhouse for snacks and beverages on the lawn. The kids
played and swam and the adults visited until dark.
I slept well last night and awoke realizing how tough, but
enjoyable the past few years have been and that I am now on
my own. Of course I have close and supportive friends and
family, but for the first time in over 45 years I have no
partner to consider or consult.
Now I have to invent a future. Alone, but not
Here is a summary of events to date.
Jean posted this to
Facebook just now:
"Since Mom's passing there have been
birds. (Just before she was diagnosed a white owl woke her
up by banging on her bedroom window. (Legend says they are a
bad omen. You think?
The morning after her death Dad woke
up to a hummingbird on the kitchen table. He opened the door
and out it flew.
Yesterday a mama duck appeared on
the pond with three babies.
Today there was a robin in her
studio. When I caught it it refused to fly away. It sat in
my hands and just looked at me--even though there were six
breathless kids standing behind me. So we looked at each
other for awhile before I convinced it to fly away.
Things happen in threes so I suppose this is the end of
them. I've kind of been enjoying the bird adventures
though... it feels like... well... I'll let you fill in the
In the end, everything is a gag.
Monday August 19th 2013
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Today we have dinner at The
Mill. Otherwise nothing much to do except that Jon and the
kids pack for their trip home tomorrow.
I should go through the hives
and also do some alcohol washes to assess varroa levels soon, too.
I still have not dropped the
gas tank on the 4X4 so that I can fill it again and use the truck
I managed to empty the
fuel tank by driving as far as I dared and don't want to fill
again until the job is done.
The gauge is unreliable and that is one reason I am
dropping it, since running anywhere below half on the gauge is risky. Running a
diesel out of fuel is not wise as they can be tricky to prime
I dread the job as it is
one of those jobs that will take two hours or two days,
depending whether the bolts come out or break off. It also
involves lying on the ground and having dirt drop on me from the
Once I get the tank fixed, I
can deliver this honey to my friends and get more empties,
hopefully before it is all robbed back into the hives and before the
boxes on the hives are all filled up.
I worked through the hives in
Quonset West and pulled another 5 boxes. I ran out of supers and had
to put on some of my boxes from storage.
I checked brood chambers as I
went. I'm watching for AFB and other problems as well as for
queens as well as spreading brood on occasion. I don't check
too closely, but look for anything out of the ordinary. So
far, so good.
I'm seeing some new queens come
online now, but it is getting late to expect them to build
populations capable of wintering.
I'm going to have to
combine some down if the season does not continue into October.
The odds of that are not good, but we did have a year like that
recently. In my memory, though, there are several years
with a killer frost on August 20. Usually we get into
September without a frost, but we have no guarantee. The
forecast for the coming week has nights well above freezing, but
the weather guessers have often been wrong.
tired of bee work and got to work on the truck. The bolts came
right out with the impact wrench, but I discovered there were still
40 litres in the 140 litre tank. That is almost 1/3 full and
that is what the gauge said.
40 litres is about 9 Imperial
gallons or 60+ pounds of weight -- plus the weight of the tank.
The added weight made the job harder than expected.
I had used up as much fuel as I
dared before dropping the tank to fix the fuel gauge and
plugged breather, but it is 1/3 full. Maybe the gauge is
reading correctly, and the intake is up off the bottom of the tank
or sucking air on the pipe? The breather does not seem plugged
now, either. I'll figure that out after I empty the tank and
Anyhow, I dropped the tank and
siphoned the fuel out, then washed the tank so I can work on it.
By then it was time to quit to get ready to go to The Mill for
Meijers showed up and picked up
their full honey supers and dropped off some empties and we went to
The Mill. We had a good supper, although I think we were a bit
more subdued than usual. We celebrated a birthday, too in a
low key sort of way.
A husband is what is left of the
lover after the nerve has been extracted.